Monday, December 5, 2011

False Alarm

I arrived today at my South Texas apartment to begin the work week. As is my custom, I left home with a travel mug of coffee and a bottle of water, both of which I empty on the drive down here. It's a three hour trip, so for a man my age with the subsequent 'fluid retention' issues the timing works out about right. I get here just as my internal pressure gauge is moving from yellow to red.

We're having our first really chilly weather down here, so as I entered the apartment I flipped the HVAC unit from Cool to Heat for the first time this year. After going through the usual 'coming home' routine (keys and wallet on the dresser, phone plugged into the charger, computer booted up, etc.) I headed for the restroom.

I unlimbered the necessary apparatus and began the process of fluid elimination. I had just reached that point familiar to most men - a feeling of relief and relaxation, accompanied by a heartfelt sigh, a stout stream, and a general sense of well being - when the heater kicked on.

It's an electric heater that hasn't been used since last winter, so very shortly the air was filled with the smell of burning ozone and toasted dust. Very shortly after that the air was filled with the sounds of various smoke and carbon monoxide alarms going off.

Evidently the apartment complex owners are quite concerned about the threat of litigation if a tenant should suffer injury from fire, smoke, or carbon monoxide, because these weren't the piddling residential alarms that one can purchase at Home Depot. No, these are industrial strength alarms that remind one of those strident klaxons in old WWII movies - on steroids.

There were three different alarms of varying pitch, intensity, and character all competing for attention. Meanwhile, I was doing my best imitation of a fire hose (remember the three hour drive while intaking a quart or two of liquids?). As my fellow men will testify, one simply doesn't shut down that type of flow in mid-stream. Furthermore, the sudden onset of the alarms caused me to involuntarily turn around in search of the source of all that clamor.

I leave the rest to your imagination.

Fortunately, the alarms shut off fairly quickly as the heating elements burned off the year's accumulation of dust and debris. All that remained was the clean-up...


Jim - PRS said...

What a pisser!

Harper said...

Better than our 3 am wake up call when that happened. The real annoying part is how the alarms are wired (to code), so that they all go off when one detects something. All seven of them.